October 31, 2010

Orchids and Prayer - Lyn Kublick

This beautiful cattleya orchid came into bloom yesterday. Its blossom is the climax of a very long story.

Twenty-four years ago my daughter was given several varieties of orchids for a school project. They were all in bloom when they came into our home and several of the others have continued to blossom over the years. This one was quite stubborn, and refused to produce another flower, until this fall.

My daughter grew up and moved away from home, but I continued to nurture her plants. No matter how carefully I cared for his one there was no reward. I assumed that it was my fault. I must have been doing something wrong. I was just not good at caring for cattleya orchids! After ten or twelve years, it would have been easy to become discouraged and consign this one to the compost bin. If that had been my choice, I never would have been blessed to see this wonder of God's creation.

Sometimes it seems that the practice of prayer can be rather like watching over an obstinate plant. There are several things that I have brought to my Father, over the years, with no visible result. I could become discouraged and conclude that I'm praying wrong, or that God isn't interested in my requests. One of the things I have prayed about, for years, is my writing and the difficulty of publication. It would be easy to give up and stop praying. Still, the ways of God are as hard to understand as the puzzles in horticulture. My task is to continue to work, pray and trust in the Lord of the eventual result. His schedule is obscure, but it is faultless. His answers come in His time, and are perfect.

October 28, 2010

Give Your Prose More Punch with Active Words - Bruce Atchison

One way to add confidence to your writing is by eliminating weak sentences. I've been doing this with my upcoming memoir, How I Was Razed and the technique has dramatically strengthened it.

You can easily change most weak sentences by searching for key word with your word processors "Replace Word" function. For example, type "was" into your search box, without the quotes, and it will take you to every sentence containing that word. If you find a sentence such as, "I was driven to church by Jay," you can rephrase it to read, "Jay drove me to church." That makes it sound more sure of itself. You can leave sentences such as, "I was there last night," alone because it's an emphatic statement.

Verbs such as, "went," "get," "left," "entered," and "moved" don't describe the action in your prose accurately. Those words leave readers wondering how somebody travelled somewhere, how a character obtained something, or how somebody departed. Another vague word is "walked." Did the character saunter, shuffle trudge, stroll, or stride? These words that describe walking speeds and attitudes add much more meaning to the sentences. You can use the same technique with "ran." People jog, dash, sprint, or pelt, depending on the situation.

Words such as "stuff" or "thing" are not only ambiguous but they sound amateurish. Telling the reader what the stuff is or what the things are helps explain their significance to the story. For example, is the stuff furniture or odd-shaped metallic objects from a bachelor's junk drawer? Naming things, or the type of things, also helps add clarity to the story. For example, are the things washing up on the beach human bodies or chunks of driftwood?

I've found that "feel" and "felt" are words that don't describe the full extent of my meaning. They could refer to somebody's opinion or sense of touch. Similarly, "felt" is used by people today to express desire. For example, "I felt like staying home this morning." Using the search function on that over-used word helps me find the sentences it appears in and correct those instances where those words make the meaning vague.

Unfortunately, I've used the word "unfortunately" too many times in my writing. From now on, I will explain why whatever I'm referring to was unfortunate. The same rule works for "regrettably," a word I regrettably use too often.

Yet another verb I've had trouble with is "rose." To say that somebody rose when that person stood gives the reader a mental impression of somebody ascending like a helium balloon.

I hope that these tips will be of help in your writing. If you're curious about what I've written, please click here. I list my two books and my writing history on that page.

October 25, 2010

Small Gestures - Karen Toews

Saturday afternoon I often listen to DNTO (Definitely Not the Opera) on CBC Radio One. October 23rd's program highlighted stories about the small gestures people send each other: their significance, intimacy, peculiarity. Typical of these kind of programs that focus on the regular stuff of life that most of us don't give a second thought to, the host invited listeners to contribute their own stories about small gestures.

Contrary to the many times I've heard this offer with nary a thought that related to me, this time I immediately knew I had a story to share.

Of my parents, my dad is the quiet one: always a diligent and steady worker, a kind and gentle man who deserved my respect. He's someone I've never wanted to intentionally hurt - from the days of youthful testing-my-wings through to the present when my visits with him are an occasional and precious treat. Though Dad is soft-spoken, he has a sure conviction about important things of life; like integrity, compassion, respect; and his way of communicating those values has been in keeping with his personality.

Growing up in a devout Christian family, we faithfully attended church together: at least two times a week, often more. Church was a place of worship and biblical learning - and a gathering place to visit. When I was about nine or ten Mom and Dad let me sit with my friends, but I just knew I was in my Dad's sights, regardless of where we sat. We did the normal kid things like writing notes, comparing the contents of our purses, whispering when we thought nobody was watching and when something would strike us as funny, trying hard to make ourselves stop giggling. Every once in a while I could feel my Dad's eyes on me and I couldn't resist a look to see if he was watching. If we made eye contact and he had one eyebrow raised and the other lowered, I knew I had better pull myself in line - right now. Mercifully, he never embarrassed me by getting out of his pew to come and ensure an improvement in my behaviour. All I needed was that one small, but meaningful, gesture to smarten me up in a hurry.

I've been given a lifetime of gestures from my Dad. Just a few months ago, grasping my hand to say good-bye and slipping me a $20 bill. On my wedding day, his gentle tug on my arm - my soon-to-be husband singing as we walked down the aisle wasn't a surprise to Dad. The little endearments shown to my children - and some not so little, like sitting in a rocking chair with babe in arms for two hours so as not to wake her up.

Actions speak loud and clear. The small intimate ones can sometimes be the most powerful.

October 24, 2010

It's More Than Charity That Begins At Home—Lynda Schultz

Today is my birthday. I'm one year closer to heaven. Today also marks the beginning of my fiftieth year of knowing the Lord. That's the birthday I really find amazing. It seems like such a short time ago when, at the age of eleven, I asked Jesus to be my Saviour and the Lord of my life.

It happened one Friday night at a children's program and the first thing I did when I got home that evening was to tell my mother and father what I had done. As I was reading in Mark this morning the idea of telling those closest to you about your spiritual decisions impacted me once again. The story is about a demon-possessed man. When Jesus cast out the demon and the man was once more clothed and in his right mind, all he wanted to do was to follow the Lord wherever Jesus was planning on going. Most leaders would love to have a few more followers in their entourage but in this case the Lord told the man: "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you" —Mark 5:19, NIV. And so it was.

Family is sometimes a "hard sell" because no one knows your wrinkles better than those closest to you. On the other hand, sharing your faith with family, new-found or not, is a logical step. My parents didn't say much when I told them that I had accepted Christ—they never were very demonstrative. But those few words did have an impact. A short time later I went forward in church when the pastor gave the invitation at the end of his sermon. He had encouraged me that Friday night to testify to my new faith in front of the congregation and to express my desire to be baptized by this public declaration. As I stood at the front of the church I sensed someone beside me. I turned my head slightly to see who was there. To my eternal surprise, there stood my mother.  As usual, she hadn't said a word to me about what had been going on in her own life—it wasn't her way. She'd been a believer for many years but had never publically declared that through baptism. My decision proved to be a catalyst for hers.

Over these fifty years of celebrating Jesus I've had many opportunities to share him with others. But no reaction to my words has been as special as that demonstrated by my mother so many years ago. When the now not-demon-possessed man returned home to tell his family and friends what the Lord had done for him, the Scriptures say that: "all the people were amazed" —Mark 5:20, NIV. I can't help but believe that this amazement produced much spiritual fruit for the Kingdom.

If charity begins at home so does telling how much the Lord had done for us, and how he has shown us his mercy. You just never know how the Lord will use even the words of a child.

October 23, 2010

Creative Words - Dorothy Bentley

As Christian writers, we need to keep returning to the Source for inspiration. Our Source is the Lord.

Who is God? There are all kinds of analogies about the Triune God. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How can we understand Him?

God is revealed in His creation. Here are a couple of examples of how God’s triune nature is revealed:

He is like an egg. Three parts in one: shell, white, and yolk.

He is like water in three forms: solid ice, liquid, and vapour.

These may sound trite, yet their simplicity is deceiving. It’s almost impossible to make something as complex as an egg, so delicate and strong at the same time, with two separate compartments inside. The Cadbury people use moulds and machinery. God does it within a bird.

It says in the book of John that Jesus is the WORD, meaning God’s Word:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Genesis demonstrates the creative power of His WORD:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.”

This is just one small portion of the Genesis account. Reading the whole account slowly while reflecting on God’s creative words brings humility.

As a writers, it is important to be rooted in our responsibility to allow the Lord to reside within our words. May they be words that bring hope, thoughts that bring peace, stories that bring healing.

October 22, 2010

I Have A Dream by Brenda Leyland

"I have a dream."  A simple sentence.  Only four small words.  But the day Dr. Martin Luther King uttered those immortal words, it set something in motion that is still at work today in our world.

"I have a dream."  Two thousand years earlier, Someone else declared that He had a dream.  Well, He didn't say it in so many words, but when He spoke as recorded in John 17:21-26, He declared the dream He had for us, for the world:

That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us. Why? So that the world would know.

That the world would know what?

That the Father sent the Son, that the Father loves the world as fiercely and wildly as He loves the Son. That the Father loves the Body of Christ as deeply and as intimately as He loves Jesus.  And, that this same love with which the Father loved the Son may be not just for us, but IN US.

We look at the world around us, we realize that Dr. King's dream is still far from being fulfilled. We look at the world around us, and we see that Jesus' dream is still far from being fulfilled.

Freedom from tyranny does not reign for all people...yet.  Freedom from the fear of not being fully loved does not reign for all people yet either.
I don't know about you, but the day I started catching hold of the truth that my heavenly Father loves ME with the same kind of love as He loves Jesus, I began to experience how precious I am to Him.

That's when Perfect Love begins to cast out all fear... to cast out the ultimate fear that I am not fully loved, not fully accepted in the Beloved, or that I am not fully welcome in this world, and that I won't be in the next either.

When I look around, I still see so many not living in the experience of that Perfect Love. We are not yet free from the tyranny of fear. Although many of us will assent that God loves us (our head knows it well), yet so many do not experience Love so perfect that it literally casts off all fear.

Oh Lord Jesus, I want Your dream fulfilled in me. I want Your dream fulfilled in my brothers and sisters. For when that happens, then the world will know that You love them too.

That the world would know. It's going to happen... it is happening!


October 20, 2010

Writer Interviews - Kimberley Payne

Many writers are now expected to take the lion’s share of work for their own publicity. This includes accepting radio and television interviews. Preparation is key.

Here are some writer’s helpful advice to prepare for an interview:

Patricia Paddey offers this advice, “Take the time in advance of the interview to write out a few talking points - that is, the main things you absolutely MUST get across in the interview in order to walk away from the experience feeling like it was a success. Memorize those talking points frontwards, backwards and forwards. Then, when doing the interview, should the interviewer ask you a question you can't answer, simply say, "I can't speak to THAT issue, but what I CAN tell you is ..." and then go on to address the talking points you are prepared to speak about. Works to deflect uncomfortable questions every time. And nobody ever seems to notice the deflection.”

As the Communications Director for two Anglican Renewal organizations, Ed Hird has been privileged to speak on most major Canadian TV and radio stations. He agrees with Patricia. “One of the keys is to have one's key talking points, and to graciously redirect the conversation back to those two or three key points.”

Ian Walker works in PR and Media accommodations. He tells his clients to “prepare using the 5 "wh's...who, what, why, where and when...if you organize your interview into those sections...you'll accomplish everything that you want to be "questioned" or have the interviewer learn more about you and your book or opinion and your interview will be a success.”

Elma Schemenauer offers another thought on interviews, “I think it's important to avoid little repetitive things one does that can get irritating or distracting, e.g. - repeating certain words, e.g. " definitely," "things of that nature," "in actual fact." - repetitive hand or facial gestures. - laughing often. I think it's perfectly OK to laugh during an interview or similar, but it's better not to do it repeatedly.”

What tips do you have for writers facing an interview?

October 14, 2010

Every Child Needs Something Big - Pamela Mytroen

The train bumps over the switches and I feel the wave as it rolls from the engine, through the sleeper cars, dining car, the coach I sit in, and continues on behind me to the end of the train snaking through the mountains of Montana. Its crossing song composed of ancient harmonies cries out to warn careless drivers or hungry deer on the tracks. For some sleeping passengers,it soothes their dreams. For myself, awake in the dark coach, it sings a song of memory and longing.

Every child needs something big in their lives. For me it was the train.

As a young girl, living in Canadian Pacific Railway Stations, the sacred sigh of the whistle resonated with my beginnings, calling to conception. And its lingering cadence on the prairie horizon spoke to my eternal soul. But mostly, it defined my childhood by intrigue, and sweetness.

My morning greeting and bed-time lullaby - the sleepy serenade in the distance - reminded me that all was well with the world, at least on my side of the tracks, and when the engines grew closer and rumbled by, shaking the windows and walls of my bedroom, I felt small and humbled and hidden by God.

My earliest memories are red, roaring and rumbling. I could feel the roots of my teeth every time. But my Daddy was always in his office where the safe fragrance of bleached paper and carbon cleansed my insecurities.

I thought every child stood barefoot on the sun-warmed platform, amazed by their tall father. He stood with yellow orders clipped to a tall “P” and leaned out over the tracks as the train stormed by. The engineer looped his arm through the wooden circle, took what he needed and tossed away the alphabet letter. Didn’t every child get to chase the train as it sped away, retrieve the hoop and return it to a Dad who would toss you in the air and hug you?

And when the floor shook didn’t every child’s secrets and prayers tumble out like marbles in a game of Kerplunk, only to pick them back up again, all slippery and rolling about, and quickly tuck them back in before anybody noticed?

Big boundaries hedged me in. A red bracket in front, the CPR Engine, and a steepled bracket behind – the Baptist Church. The bustling Co-op Grocery store and my flag-poled school across town completed the parenthesis of life around me and I knew my place.

It was the in-between where I lived and found sanctuary. My back yard, just down the slope from the relentless rails, beckoned me into its garden of grass and secrecy. Tall pines watched and whispered as the train’s minor melody inspired mysteries to be acted out with friends and games to be played. And when the freight cars passed by we scuttled up to the tracks and walked on molten-steel, with arms stretched out, skinny legs balancing just so until the aroma of fresh bread wafted towards us and we raced each other back home.

Inside my house another harbor welcomed. Never mind that we didn’t have running water. We had the luxury of a freight room with an expanse of hard wood floors made just for running and sliding on sock feet. Crates of yellow chicks waiting to be transported, jiggled and cheeped until my sister and I pried open the lid and pressed the downy velvet against our cheeks.

Peering into Daddy's office with my chin resting on the smooth worn ticket counter, the dong of the large pendulum clock and the squeal of his castor-wheeled chair became the prelude of my measured days and as I worship here in the ceremonial sway of spark and steel I am thankful for having had big things in a small life.

by Pam Mytroen

October 12, 2010

A blog retrospective - Nesdoly

A week from today is the sixth blogiversary of my personal blog promptings. That's right, on October 19th I will have logged six whole years of blogging! I never thought, when I started way back then, that I'd reach anything like 1795 posts or that after saying all that, I still have more say.

I well remember the trepidation with which I put up my first post. Back in those days, I didn't have a traffic counter, so have no clue whether anyone came to read, or not — probably not.

My first post was about writing and just for old time's sake I'm republishing it here today. If you write a blog, be encouraged and stay the course. Six years will pass before you know it. If you enjoy writing and are thinking of creating a blog — dive in. It's a lot of fun!


Jim Coggins and murder mystery

I attended the monthly meeting of the Fraser Valley Christian Writer's Group last night. Jim Coggins, writer of Who's Grace and newly released Desolation Highway - both published by Moody Press - was the main feature.

Coggins was right at home. After all, he lives in Abbotsford and edited the M. B. Herald from there for years. His quips re: what's a good Mennonite boy doing writing about murder, went over well. Most of us there were either of Mennonite stock or knew well their anti-killing, peacenik proclivities - as Abbotsford is a Mennonite retirement Mecca.

Two angles of his talk fascinated me:

1. How he got into writing murder mysteries:

He's an academic, a historian and was (when he started his fiction writing jag) the editor of a very straight-laced periodical. But long before he tried his hand at writing murder mysteries, he and his wife Jackie read them regularly (out loud, to each other, till one or the other fell asleep) before bed. They went through a variety of writers - good, bad, and indifferent. After one particularly bad beginning, Jim tossed the book aside and declared, "I could do better than that?"

"Then why don't you," said Jackie.

Another catalyst was a garrulous bus driver (more interested in talking to people than driving the bus, Jim was sure) on whose bus Jim often rode to work. When she found out he was a writer, she said, "What do you write? I'd like to read one of your books sometime."

Yikes, Jim thought, there's my thesis - not exactly something she'd be interested in, and the magazine - too much christianese. He determined, then, he'd like to try his hand at writing something he could hand to a person like her - unchurched, non-religious, a good read but something that would get her thinking along Christian lines as well.

2. Why murder mystery is a good genre for a Christian writer:

Now I don't like reading mysteries all that much - although I'm addicted to my weekly Saturday afternoon helping of warmed over "Cold Case Files" and "City Confidential." But Coggins pointed out some inherently Christian worldview aspects of the traditional murder mystery that I'd never thought of before:

- The world is portrayed as black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. There are good people and the bad guy who dunnit.

- Murder mysteries model in microcosm what happened to humanity in Eden. Everything's going along fine. Then someone is found dead. Chaos! From then on the book is dedicated to restoring order to its world.

- The murder mystery projects values.

  • MM's uphold the value of justice - we feel unsatisfied if the crime doesn't get solved and the bad guy doesn't get caught.
  • MM's uphold the value of human life. As Coggins pointed out, you can have a mystery about anything - about, say, lost socks. But who cares? However, when someone is murdered, we care. Why? Because human life matters.

I bought Desolation Highway and Coggins signed it for me. So I'll read another murder mystery. Who knows, maybe hubby and I will start reading them as bedtime stories. And maybe one of us will start writing them. I'm pretty sure, though, it won't be me.

Copyright © 2004 by Violet Nesdoly

(First published on promptings - October 19, 2004)


Website: www.violetnesdoly.com

October 10, 2010

Writing Assignment - Bonnie Way

It is mid-morning when you sit down at the computer to write.  You've seen your husband off to work, gotten your breakfast and fed the kids their breakfast, loaded up the dishwasher, washed the rest of the dishes that didn't go in the dishwasher (who buys wooden spoons anyway?) and now, for a few minutes, it seems quiet enough that you can turn on the computer and write.

Pushing that power button always seems to do more things than just turn on the computer, however.  Your two-year-old gets into a fight with your four-year-old over the stuffed puppies that one of them (if they can't remember, how are you supposed to?) got for Christmas from Grandma (or maybe it was Uncle Joe).  Then the dog starts yowling at the squirrel in the yard.  The phone rings.  The kettle shrieks (because a mocha is always helpful to the muse).  And you remember that the clothes sitting in the laundry bin upstairs MUST go in the washing machine this morning, before they walk down here on their own.

By the time you hang up on the telemarketer, yell at the dog, give the kids a talk about stuffies and sharing, and start the laundry, you have to the boil the kettle again for the mocha and the computer has gone to sleep.  You wake up the computer.  Check your email.  Drop by Facebook, just to see what anybody else is doing.  The washing machine dings, so you throw the clothes in the dryer.  You get the kids a snack.  You find that your mocha is cold, so you throw it in the microwave.

Then you sit down, again, and open Word.  Maybe you should've opened Excel first, because you can't remember what you were supposed to work on.  That editor from the writing magazine wanted an article on freelancing as a mother.  And the instructor in your online course had handed out a new writing assignment, due tonight, of course.  What was it?  Oh yeah, write something in second-person point of view.

October 08, 2010

Listening to God--Janet Sketchley

As I packed for a spiritual retreat last weekend, a thought hit me: you can count on hearing God at a retreat because you’ve reduced the distractions, but it’s also because you’re listening. You’re anticipating. You expect to hear him.

Some people listen regularly. They hear from Him. Not every day, maybe, but a word here and a thought there that add up to a message. Then they obey.

And I have heard from Him at in the busyness of daily life, usually when I was desperate. But then, like on retreat, it was a one-time insight or connection.

This time, I bumped into the word “control” before even zipping my suitcase. Then, surprise: the subject was a significant theme at the retreat. And it’s been following me since I’ve come home.

I’m struck by how long a process this is. Not a one-piece insight or revelation, but a constant alertness to catch and piece together God’s message to me. He’s probably speaking like this all the time and I’m just not tuned in.

I’ve started jotting notes in a little book so I can see the emerging picture. And so I can hold myself accountable to obey what I’ve heard so far. After all, the hearing isn’t much good if it isn’t put into practice through action. God doesn’t seem to spend much time teaching us abstract concepts or theories on which to speculate. What He says, He expects us to do.

Father, teach me to walk... to listen... to always be alert for what You might say... not just in devotional times but each moment... in all circumstances. Help me not to over-spiritualize trivial things, but help me be open to what You actually say, whether through the trivial or the profound. Help me pay attention.

© Janet Sketchley, 2010
For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

October 05, 2010

Seeking Solace - Glynis Belec

Today I journeyed back two years. For a little while now we have been settling into our new nest and I have been picking through boxes and finding new homes and hiding places for everything.

This morning I found my journals. Two years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, journaling became my therapy. I wrote faithfully, pouring my heart and soul into handwritten words on a page. Some days I bore evidence of eloquence. Other days I wrote one or two liners (especially first day post surgery!) Some days I even dabbled with poetry. As I read through some of my poetic entries I tried to dissect what it was I was truly feeling at the time. My little exercise was reminiscent of school days gone by when I had to take a poem and sort out what the poet was really saying.

It seems, as I look back, my dabbling in poetry began the same time as my chemotherapy.

(written June 19,2008)
Waiting, waiting, waiting
But I don't lose my patience
There are too many patients
Who look sadder than me.
Take them to chemo first.
Make them better first.
Lord, is the carpet ready?
I am seated.
Float me into Lilliana's arms
My sweet nurse
Her expert hands move about
Like a skilled artist.
The needle slips and my veins are uncooperative
They hide, fearing Taxol
Despising Carboplatin
Finally on the fifth try, God says,
"That's enough." And it works.
The silent killers enter my body
Dripping, dripping, dripping...

written June 22, 2008

Wretched poison;
insidious mytosis
strangle tissue-
killing cancer
Jesus holds me tenderly
I will submit
to your will;
I will be still...

written June 28, 2008

The crown of a woman
Her glory. Her honour.
As if awaiting my dethroning.
I watch the clock; the calendar; the mirror.
Insidious, silent enemy preparing for battle
I bathe. The bubbles disappear
Drain gurgles
Strands of hair cling tenaciously to the fibreglass cavity.
More than usual. Curled into a question mark.
Reaching for the removable shower head
I chase the delinquent locks
They disappear down the drain.
Dare I check tomorrow?

written June 29, 2008

Deep inside the crevices of my heart
I discover unexplored territory
As I chip away at the calloused formation
The air becomes fresher, cleaner, purer.
A trickle?
A pulsation deafening, yet strangely calming.
The pure, genuine sound
Of God.
Create in me a clean heart O God.
That I might worship You.
Filth, stagnant promises, sinful desires, self attitudes
Crumble, crushed, powder
Blown away by the breeze
Of the Holy Spirit
"Be Still so that I can re-form you, my child,"
He whispers.
I am still. I am ready.
In God I trust - Father
In Jesus I rest - Son
In the Wind, I believe - Holy Spirit
Triune Treasure...

written July 4, 2008
Sleep. boundless sleep.
My body aches; my soul longs
Rest my weary mind
Poison soaking my inner being?
When my mind cries out for sleep
The lunatic laughter surfaces and mocks.
Rest? No. Your cancerous cells swallow you up
Rancid, wretched demons. Begone.
Jesus, where is Thy weapon?
Why can't I heal?
Gird myself, you say?
With truth; with Thy word; with salvation; with righteousness
In the strength of Jesus may this sleepless night become a glimmer
Rest. Rest. Rest. Rest is best...

October 04, 2010

Better Writing Skills - Gwen Mathieu

Here it is Oct. 4, 10:00 p.m. and I realize I am to post some type of writing. It seems I leave some things until the last minute.

I believe it was Jerry Jenkins who said, "Writing a novel is hard work." I think even writing a small thing like a blog post is hard work.

I am looking forward to our "Critique Writer's Group" starting this week. There is nothing like a writer's group to get you motivated and help discipline your writing time. I need a lot of encouragement in this area. There are too many things in my life that are distracting, but enjoyable. Like reading, for instance. I love to bury myself in some one's plot. I love being introduced to new characters. The last two novels I read were delightful and inspirational.

Oh, if I could only write like that! Perhaps I can. But I will never know if I don't try. I need to continue on with the novel I started nearly ten years ago. Ten years! Surely I have learned "better writing skills" during that time. Surely?

October 02, 2010

Consider Carefully - M. Laycock

“Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” Luke 8:18

It never ceases to amaze me how you can read a passage of scripture that is very familiar and suddenly see - or hear - something that you’ve never seen or heard before. Such was the case when I read Luke 8:16-18. It’s a familiar passage, one often quoted in the context of gifts and talents. But that is not the context. The context is talking about hearing and receiving God’s word.

It comes immediately after the parable of the sower – that wonderful and somewhat convicting passage about those who were hearing the word but received it in different ways, under different circumstances. For a while I wondered how these two passages were connected. They seemed isolated – one about hearing, the other about sharing. But as I pondered it, the light began to dawn. You cannot have one without the other.

You will not have a light to put on a lamp stand or anywhere else if you are not receiving that light from a pure source. If you are not hearing from God, you have nothing worth saying.

Now I’m not talking about divine revelation in the same terms as we would consider scripture divinely revealed. I am talking about the everyday, ordinary way God speaks to us. I’m talking about how we listen. That is a difficult thing to do in these days that are so full of busy-ness and stress, but it is an essential thing, especially for those who would dare to be writers.

I remember a day some time ago when I realized how important it was. The day couldn't have been more perfect. The sky was clear, the sun dancing off the water. The beach slowly filled with parents and children, out to enjoy a day at the beach. After an overnight camp out, my friend and I had brought a few girls from our church's Kids' Club to have a swim and a picnic. We stretched out on the sand and chatted as we watched the children play. Little ones were busy making sand castles. An older pair tossed a frisbee above their heads.

A little red-haired girl caught my attention. She had wandered in front of us a few times, as she dashed from the edge of the lake to her mother, sitting in a lawn chair not far away. I watched as she stood still, her small head bent studiously over something in her hand. She turned and started toward us, stopped and peered at her hand once more, took a few more steps and stopped again. Her progress was slow as this pattern was repeated. As she approached, I could see a moth cupped in her palm. She tilted her hand each time it moved, stopped when it crawled dangerously close to the edge and moved slowly forward when it was secure again. Eventually the little girl reached her parent, holding her hand out for her to admire the precious treasure.

My delight in watching that little girl deepened as I heard God’s voice. “That’s how I carry you, to my Father’s delight.” The depth of Jesus’ love overwhelmed me in that moment.

I know I could have missed His voice that day. I could have been anxiously watching the little ones under my care. I could have had my mind on all the stresses that come with being a pastor’s wife and mother. I could have let all of “life’s worries, riches and pleasures” get in the way. But somehow He broke through. I heard and was blessed and several times I have used that story in written form to illustrate God’s care for us.

We must take time to listen for God’s voice, consider the circumstances in which we have placed ourselves and see to it that we find a place that is conducive to hearing God’s voice. Then we will indeed, have something worth writing about.

To read more of Marcia's work visit her website - www.vinemarc.com